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The moons that orbit Saturn may be increasing by one -- an icy, pint-sized object that astronomers have named “Peggy.”
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spotted evidence that a mysterious object measuring perhaps half a mile across is disturbing the outer edge of Saturn’s large, bright A ring. The object’s gravity seems to have roughed up the ring’s usually smooth profile.
There’s good reason to think Peggy could join the very long list of Saturnian moons (a list that includes 53 official moons and nine provisional ones). Astronomers have theorized that the moons started out as collections of ice from Saturn’s hefty rings and then drifted into orbits farther away.
The oldest moons probably formed when the rings were more substantial. By coalescing so much material, they grew large and drifted into orbits farther away from the planet.